Can Michigan Paycheck Games Boost Big Ten Peacock Deal?

Michigan’s throwaway games against the Power Five may be good as gold for Peacock as it looks to cash in on Big Ten football.

Peacock will stream Michigan’s home opener
Source: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Week one marks a long-awaited moment for the Big Ten. That’s right, the Michigan Wolverines will make their debut on NBC’s streaming service, Peacock when they host East Carolina.

Peacock is privileged to receive the rights to Michigan’s toughest non-conference game, but will it be enough to make people subscribe to Peacock.

Surprisingly, recent research may prove that people will be willing to succeed. Thanks to, we can take a look at the viewership of Michigan’s “paycheck games” against Group of Five schools that aired on Cable TV.

Cable Viewership of Michigan Games Vs. Group of Five
Source: Redshirt Sports

The table above shows that Michigan averaged over one million viewers for five home games against Group of Five schools that aired on cable. None of these games were particularly close either, with Michigan easily dispatched these opponents by an average score of 51-12 in these games.

One explanation for this is Michigan’s status as a national brand and its recent return to prominence under Jim Harbaugh. The American public may perceive Michigan football as a “must-see TV” no matter who they play.

A likelier explanation is Michigan has a loyal fanbase that is willing to watch even the most lopsided blowout against any opponent, even those that lack brand-name recognition.

Either way, this is good news for Peacock. While Peacock may not reach the levels of the aforementioned games, ECU-Michigan will still likely draw strong viewership for the streaming service.

In addition to Michigan’s recognition and loyal fanbase, this is East Carolina’s first meeting with Michigan and a meeting against the #2 team in the country. Pirates fans will likely deal with the $5.99/month cost for the chance to see their team pull off one of the greatest upsets in college football history.

The College Football world has critiqued the Big Ten’s deal with Peacock for a variety of reasons including the quality of their selections. While the streaming service may lack marquee games with national championship implications, games like ECU-Michigan could produce quality viewership numbers. This could make the Big Ten’s deal with Peacock a genius move in the long run.